It takes constant evolution and a keen customer focus to make sure that your range stays relevant.
Self-styled “traditional Yorkshireman” Ron Ford’s recently opened Budgens in the village of Darfield, near Barnsley, boasts the symbol group’s range of premium beers, functional juices and protein bars, but Ron is the first to admit that he didn’t expect these categories to resonate with his shoppers.
“Our craft lines are picking up. I’m a regular John Smith’s kind of guy, but you can’t just cater to your own tastes,”he explains.
But getting to this stage took time and sacrifice. Ron had his eye on the plot of land where the purpose-built store now stands for some time. It originally had planning permission for eight houses, but when the builder that bought it died and the planning permission lapsed, Ron negotiated a deal with his widow and began the 10-month process of changing the permission over to a convenience store.
“We had five shops and then halfway through buying this shop, I sold a smaller shop to get the funds,” he explains.
The store traded with Costcutter for 16 years, even winning the symbol’s ‘store of the year’ award, before the collapse of Palmer & Harvey. Ron responded by moving all five of his stores to Budgens.
“We didn’t want to move, it was forced upon us, but it’s going well. Our availability is back up to the levels it was five years ago and sales are up 6%. The main benefit is that I feel like I’ve got my life back – I’m working half as many hours now,” he says.